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Digital Camera

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5 replies to this topic

#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Jim Sentry

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Posted November 28 2004 - 02:57 AM

I think this year I might spring for a Digital Camera, but there are so many out there. I want one that's easy to use and produces really sharp images that can be both uploaded and also printed.

Can anyone recommend a good site for honest reviews of digital cameras.


#2 of 6 OFFLINE   brentl



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Posted November 28 2004 - 03:36 AM

DPreview would be a great start.


#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Lars Larsen

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Posted November 28 2004 - 10:14 AM

I'd suggest Steve's Digicams
Yamaha RX-V765, DALI Ikon 2 Mk 2, SVS SB12-Plus, Sonos, Synology 209j, PS3, Antec Fusion HTPC 500GB, MediaPortal

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Jim Sentry

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Posted November 28 2004 - 10:51 AM

Thanks Guys. Lot of info to digest. Don't know if I should go with a cheaper one or closer to 1K. I have lots of learning and research to do.

Thanks Again

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Elinor


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Posted November 28 2004 - 11:04 AM

If you are thinking "compact," look for a camera with a decent optical zoom (at least 3x, more is better). More importantly, look for one with fast built-in lens (fast meaning, low f number). A fast lens has a larger maximum aperture, which lets more light in, allowing you (or the camera) to select a larger range of apertures and shutter speeds. 4 megapixels is going to let you print pretty much up to 11x14 cleanly, even larger if you aren't too critical.

Of course, a digital SLR is going to give you maximum flexibility in lenses, flashes, and other accessories. But you pay for it.

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted November 29 2004 - 12:52 AM

Yes, I would agree w/ Elinor.

Since it sounds like you might not know what he's talking about, Posted Image let me put it in even simpler terms (and then elaborate on certain other essential items). :wink:

You should prefer one w/ larger max aperture, which means smaller f #. For example, Canon usually has larger max apertures than the competition, and their G-series cams like G6 have the largest apertures at f/2-f/3 -- those are spec-ed for wideangle-to-telephoto as they usually vary on these digicams w/ few exceptions. Since it usually varies throughout the zoom range, you should compare accordingly. Nowadays, some digicams, particularly ones w/ large zoom ranges, also come w/ some sort of image stabilization -- Nikon's VR, Canon's IS, Minolta's AS -- which essentially helps to mitigate the need for larger apertures when shooting relatively stationary scenes/subjects though not completely. Larger aperture will help the autofocus and certain other relatively minor items.

So those are 2 things to consider together, especially if you're not shooting action.

Also, something else to consider is how clean (or noise-free, sharp, relatively free of purple fringing and still color accurate) at each given ISO rating. This is significant because higher ISO can be used to offset the need for larger aperture. So if one digicam at ISO400 yields images that are just as clean as another at ISO200, that's a real benefit that can offset most of the advantages of larger aperture on these digicams. And if that's combined w/ larger aperture (and image stabilization also), then that's a huge benefit indeed. Also, it seems that some digicams are more sensitive than their ISO rating thus often making it less necessary to bump up the ISO.

These are all things that will help you get sharper/cleaner images when the light is marginal, eg. sunrise, sunset, in deep shades, indoors, etc, or when trying to stop action for a shot. In broad daylight, they should not be real issues.

You should note that these things also become more critical as you shoot at the long end of the zoom lens -- ie. as you zoom towards max zoom. This is because handshake becomes more of an issue as you zoom towards telephoto end. If you've used a videocam much, you've probably noticed that already. So image stabilization becomes more important there (as you will notice w/ the many large zoom cams that sport image stabilization of some sort).

And yeah, 4MP should do you fine -- and typically, more MP does end up costing you some in terms of image noise per ISO rating although some recent models are fighting that w/ what looks like pretty good in-camera noise reduction. In this regard, typically, larger CCD size will help keep the images cleaner.

Finally, if you don't mind the bulk (and the extra $$$), I highly recommend getting a cam that offers hotshoe for a good external flash. Onboard flash is never quite that good on any camera. They are ok in a pinch, but not great and are generally far more prone to red-eye than an external flash (because they are so close to the lens). If you learn to bounce an external flash, you will find the results far better, yielding images that look like what you actually see w/ your eyes in a well lit room rather than a subject that's spot-lit in a dark or dimly lit room (and there will be no red-eyes too). Of course, external flash will also typically give you much better flash range too, if needed.

Some of these things might get mentioned in the reviews, but generally, you'll need to keep them in mind as most reviews aren't very good at pointing them out for the layman. Posted Image

Oh, one more thing. You really should go check out the cameras in person for ergonomics and easy-of-use (and probably even compactness). In the end, this aspect is quite important to help you get the shot. And also, if you can't stand how your camera works, it'll discourage you from wanting to use it (and lug it around w/ you). And that's quite important as a camera can only be so good if it never comes out of the bag. :wink:

And oh, one more final thing. Posted Image The above will apply even if you consider a digital SLR like the Canon D-Rebel -- which is a great buy nowadays -- *but* there are some fundamental differences (particularly the larger CCD sensor) that makes at least the comparison of max apertures a bit different. For one thing, they use interchangeable lenses, and to get lenses that have max aperture comparable to a good compact digicam, you'll need to spend good additional $$$ *and* lug around the bigger lenses -- yes, brighter lenses are typically larger/heftier. Also, the apertures on their lenses, designed for the larger sensors (and/or for 35mm film), will yield substantially shallower depth-of-field (DoF) than a typical compact digicam. This means at any given aperture you get a much smaller area where things are in focus (and much more blurriness in out-of-focus areas like backgrounds). This can be great to isolate a subject in a busy scene *or* can be a problem if you need focus on a good size area of the scene in marginal lighting conditions. Typically, the DoF at say f/2.8 on a compact digicam would be like f/9 on a digital SLR. The brightness characteristic is still the same, but the shallow DoF at large apertures might sometimes deter you (and other times make you love Posted Image). But again, while they are much cleaner at same ISO ratings (as everyone will tell you), you do also need to spend good $$$ on bigger, heftier, brighter lenses to get full advantage. And of course, there are other advantages and caveats to a DSLR also, so don't just run out and get one w/out doing more homework on it. Posted Image There's really no free lunch. :wink:


PS: In case you're wondering, I own (and use almost daily) a Nikon D70 digital SLR and also a Canon G3, which I no longer use except on rare occasions. You can find many of my photos taken w/ both cameras at the url in my profile although many may not be your cup-of-tea (and have been processed/tweaked in Photoshop as well). Also, if you do a search at that website (pbase.com), you will find lots of samples from the many digicams -- just be sure to account for any processing done in Photoshop and also for their resized look (as most people, including myself, do not upload original size images) -- always look at pbase images in "original" sizes, ie. how they were uploaded, as pbase does a bad job of resizing to smaller versions.

Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)